An annual Roots of Empathy celebration on June 17 concluded another successful program year as students bid farewell to their tiny educators with well wishes.
The program was created by Mary Gordon, a child development expert, to promote empathy in young children. Every three weeks, a neighbourhood infant and parent visit a classroom and allow students to observe the baby’s development and emotions. The goal is to help children label the baby’s feelings, which in turn allows them to identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others around them.
St. Michael Catholic Elementary School has been delivering the Roots of Empathy program for the past 5 years in its Full Day Kindergarten classes, said Early Childhood Educator Sandra Tirabassi.
“We have witnessed the positive effects the program has on all children, especially with our newcomers and those with exceptionalities,” she said.
The final theme for Roots of Empathy, “Good Wishes,” invited students to wish good things for another person.
“It takes them beyond empathy to plan for another’s well-being and happiness. Students were encouraged to dream about what the world could and should be like for their Roots of Empathy baby when that baby reaches their age.”
Some examples of what kindergarten children shared with were, “I wish baby Haisley has friends,” “I wish baby Haisley can walk,” “I wish baby Haisley can ride a bike,” and “I wish baby Haisley can play together with me”.
“This Theme promotes and celebrates the baby’s growth and development over the course of the program. It also provides a chance for the parents to summarize and reflect on the experience, and for students to reflect on their learning.”